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March 26, 2019

Today, Gov. Northam announced an amendment to the enrolled budget that will eliminate the suspension of driving privileges for nonpayment of court fines and costs. This amendment would also reinstate driving privileges for the more than 627,000 Virginians who currently have their licenses suspended. This following statement can be attributed to the ACLU of Virginia Executive Director Claire Gastañaga:

"If approved by a majority vote of the House and Senate, the language amendment to the budget that the Governor is recommending would end the practice of suspending Virginia driver’s licenses based on failure to pay court costs and fines.  This would mean that more than 600,000 people will get their licenses back, making us all safer by ensuring that people who are driving on our highways are properly licensed and insured, and that people don’t lose their licenses just because they don’t have the money to pay court costs and fines.

"The ACLU of Virginia believes that suspension or revocation of driver’s licenses should be reserved as a penalty for a driving related offense, and that driver’s licenses should not be used as leverage to collect monies owed to the Commonwealth. 

"People who are impacted by the current practice of suspending licenses as a means to collect costs are stripped of their ability to support themselves and their families, as driver’s licenses are crucial to securing and maintaining employment, driving children to school, and obtaining basic needs. 

"We are pleased by the Governor’s action and urge the legislature to act positively on the Governor’s recommendation."